Simultaneous intracellular recordings of nearby neocortical neurons have demonstrated that their membrane potentials are highly correlated. The correlation between the spiking activity of nearby neocortical neurons may be much smaller, suggesting that inputs are more similar than outputs. Much less is known about the similarity of inputs in subcortical sensory areas. Here we investigate this question by making simultaneous whole-cell recordings from neighbouring neurons in the dorsal cortex of the mouse inferior colliculus. No evidence for monosynaptic connections between neighbouring cells was observed, suggesting that integration of afferent signals plays a more important role than local processing. The correlation between frequency response areas of neighbouring cells varied but, surprisingly, neighbouring cells were on average not more similar in their responses to tones than non-neighbouring neurons. This large micro-heterogeneity suggests a sparse representation of acoustic features within the dorsal cortex. © 2011 The Authors. Journal compilation